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Oksana Baiul sues William Morris Endeavor Agency (threads merged)

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Badams, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    I think Ari Zakarian was her agent at some point. He was in the car with her when she got the dui, iirc.
  2. GoGreen

    GoGreen New Member

    I don't think Ari Zakarian was ever her agent, more like a friend. Zakarian mentioned that Baiul called him for help after the accident.
  3. halfloopy

    halfloopy Active Member

    At one point it was pretty common for Russian coaches to be paid a percentage of the skater's earnings instead of fee for coaching. I beleive some coaches still work that way in Russia. Now whetehr a percentage of 30% is fair, and for how long the skater should be on the hook are seperate questions.
  4. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

    Michael Carlisle, who IIRC speaks Russian, was her agent at Wm. Morris for a while. He subsequently left Wm. Morris, opened his own very successful literary agency. He is an up and up guy and Wm. Morris which is huge and reps (and has since time immemorial) extremely successful and high earning (many millions) folks, doesn't need and didn't need to "exploit" a minor to make a few extra bucks. Ilia followed Oksana to Wm. Morris and Michael very successfully.

    I doubt if Galina took anything that wasn't customary and earned (but Oksana isn't suing Galina and probably won't because Wm. Morris is a much deeper pocket to go after), so I don't know if payments to Galina are really in question in the suit. Galina helped Oksana to a medal that should have guaranteed her future. If that money was not managed well over the last 20 years Galina had little or nothing to do with that.

    The good news here is that large agencies like Wm. Morris keep very careful books and records. I am sure the numbers are quite transparent and if OB thinks she can make something out of them, she certainly has the freedom to sue. She's not going to get a penny from them unless it is really owed. So we'll see if it is really owed as this plays out.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  5. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

    A global tour sounds much too ambitious and would be quite costly. I think it is doomed to fail. Sounds like something come up with during a manic episode. I hope this man doesn't lead her into complete financial ruin the way Dorothy Hamilton's husband did her. Her early years are very unfortunate, but she had the resources to get imo much needed therapy and to educate herself.
  6. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    You're right, he wasn't her agent. He was the passenger that night, though. According to people he broke his finger in the accident.

  7. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    She was only 16 years old, in a foreign country, with a completely different culture. It is possible that they took advantage of her, but is a 16 year old allowed to sign a contract without an adult/guardian's signature?

    About 30% to Galina- I don't see that as outrageous, as long as Oksana knew about it and agreed to it. If not for Galina, where would Oksana be today? Galina took her into her home, coached her, Viktor bought her skates and dresses. IMO she owes these two a lot more than she admits. Whatever personal problems they may have had later does not erase the fact that she became an Olympic champion because of their help. Otherwise she would be a nobody today.
  8. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

    It would be nice if we had a contract lawyer here to comment. I'm not one of those but I did a minute of research just looking to confirm that a minor cannot enter into a contract in New York state. They can't (and I don't believe could at the time we're referencing here). The judicial review of contracts with minors is interesting:

    New York also authorizes judicial approval of minor entertainers' contracts. Like
    California, such approval applies to contracts by performing artists and professional
    athletes. However, under New York law, a judge may refuse to approve the contract
    until the parents (if entitled to the minor's earnings) or the minor (if entitled to the minor's
    own earnings) agrees to set aside a portion of the earnings to be placed under the
    control of a guardian. The court generally will determine the amount of earnings to be
    set aside by considering the following:
    • The parents' financial circumstances
    • The needs of the minor's family and parents' other children, if any
    • Whether the minor is married
    Finally, under New York law, most terms of the minor's employment contract may not
    exceed three years from the date of approval.

    I think the point here is that although there is always opportunity for abuse of the contract if a party chooses to do that, there are some checks in place when it comes to a contract entered into on behalf of a minor. Is it clear from the filing who was OB's legal guardian or representative for these purposes at the time? Who signed for her?

    Edited to add - this suit was filed in California but CA has similar rules about contracting with a minor.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
    Vash01 and (deleted member) like this.
  9. euterpe

    euterpe Well-Known Member

    I don't think Oksana ever got married. She has had a string of fiances, but didn't marry any of them.
  10. Sasha'sSpins

    Sasha'sSpins Well-Known Member

    ITA. I hope Oksana wins this one. If she has indeed run out of money as someone here suggested-it doesn't make it okay if she was taken advantage of as a minor. I don't know what her situation is of course but if she owns an estate in Pennsylvania-she must be at least okay for now.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  11. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    I'm also confused about whether Oksana is also suing over her original contract with them in 1994. I would think the statute of limitations would have run out on that one.
  12. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    I agree AxelAnnie. Oksana was supposedly sleeping in the shed at the ice rink (did anyone even bother to confirm that?) after practice because she had no where to go. It's hard to come down on Galina when she took this little girl with no parents and no means of support into her home and trained her gratis. Totally agree. Who knows where Oksana would be had Galina not opened up her home and rink to her, maybe a dying alcoholic prositute in Ukraine.

    HOWEVER, Galina did not wave a magic wand and make Oksana an Olympic gold medalist. Oksana put in the hours, the blood, sweat and tears. Oksana was with Galina only what? Two years, three years before Lillehamer. I think the correct thing to do would be to reimburse Galina for those three years, say thank you for changing my life and I'll be forever grateful to you, and then cut the financial ties. If Galina still has her medal as hostage, I'm even more disgusted by her.

    Whatever happened to altruism? I sponsored a kid in my neighborhood (it's the third ward, 99.9% black) so she could go to a private high school, and she totally came into her own, and is now in college on a full ride. Do I expect compensation? Hell no. Did I expect a thank you? Yep. And I got one, and said "It was a pleasure to be a part of it".

    So I guess I understand Galina, but then I don't. I'm not looking for a cut in this young girl's future earnings. Helping was the reward. Her success was the gravy.

    Sorry to sound so Pollyanna. I am a quite cynical person.
  13. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

    Just for the record - you can't be both a Pollyanna and a cynic at the same time - one logically cancels the other.

    That said, in the Ukraine and former Soviet countries (among others) there were common practices about earnings (a cut of the skater's income) for elite coaches and I've not seen anything that even suggests that Galina got anything more than was customary. You're confusing the 10% for the agent with Galina's cut as coach (which, granted, is way more than 10%).

    And altruism? This was Galina's work. Does anyone ask you or me to do our full-time jobs for nothing because that would make us nicer people? What we contribute to is another story but no one says "I think you're donating Mondays and Tuesdays to this company."

    Your illustration concerning your own contribution though lovely and generous doesn't exactly mirror this situation - after you helped the young person pay for a private high school did you expect all the teachers to donate all their time? Because that's what you're saying.

    Coaching is work. Coaches are entitled to compensation for their time and skill just like the teachers in your story and everyone else who works for a living. In some cases (especially in poorer countries and certain situations) the coach's earnings come after the skater's success not before it because there is no money available without the success. Today in the U.S. many kids' parents pay coaches as they go (and it's darn expensive!) - but Galina got nothing for working with Oksana (Oksana, sadly, had no way to pay her) before Oksana actually earned money off her skating. You suggest that Galina should have donated all of the time she spent training her key student. Then how does Galina, a professional coach, put food on her table?

    As I said before, I have no impression from the filing that Oksana is looking to recover any part of Galina's earnings - am I missing something here? How did Galina get to be the bad guy in this discussion? I don't think she's even part of the law suit.

    If you want to debate the merits of various earnings arrangements for elite coaches that's fine - but that's another discussion.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  14. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    Willoway, you make a very good point. Galina is not even involved in this lawsuit. (Is it just my computer or has FSU gone down from 14 point to like 4 point? I can barely read without my glasses on, and I don't have my glasses on) If I mispell I am trying to correct but some things get passed. Anyway, in this tiny font I am writing conservatively, I do not mean to demonize Galina, but let Oksana just pay for those three years and be done. Didn't Hamill sue Fassi over that? It's like "Look coach, you got me the medal, but *I* did the work and had to overtrain and deal with competition nerves, andI pulled the performance out of my ass when it was do/die." The font is too low I can't type anymore.
  15. nursebetty

    nursebetty New Member

    Maybe this is partly for publicity. It's very close to 2013. I would worry about an agent who thought she could carry a show when Scott is having a hard time with SOI.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  16. jenniferlyon

    jenniferlyon Well-Known Member

    At some point, Oksana said those stories about her sleeping at the ice rink weren't true. Sorry, I don't have a link. That was nearly twenty years, three computers, and numerous email addresses ago. I also used to have an email buddy who was working on a biography of Oksana. He had traveled to her hometown of Dniepepetrovsk and interviewed people who knew Oksana from the time she was very small.

    IIRC, Oksana moved in with her childhood coach after her mother died. She stayed there for about a year, but then he took off for Canada. Somewhere I read that after the coach left and before Oksana moved to Odessa to train with Galina, she stayed in an athlete's dorm, of which there were many in the former USSR. I guess this is the kernel of truth behind the "sleeping at the ice rink" myth. My email buddy told me that the nascent Ukrainian Skating Federation was very aware of who Oksana was at that time-- she had competed at the Soviet Nationals when she was just twelve or thirteen. They were the ones who arranged for her to train with Galina. If Galina had declined for whatever reason, the federation would have arranged for Oksana to train elsewhere, perhaps in Kiev.

    It was one year/skating season before Oksana won Worlds; two years before Lillehammer.

    I'm not sure if that story about the medal is true or not. I seem to recall that Oksana gave the medal to Galina's elderly mother, with whom she was close. Perhaps Galina kept it after her mother passed away, but I don't know for sure.

    At any rate, both Oksana and Galina benefitted professionally from the arrangement. I don't think Galina was prepared for everything that awaited them after they came to the USA. How could she? She was a middle aged woman who had lived in the Soviet Union until it crumbled. I get the feeling that this was one of those scenarios that isn't uncommon among immigrants where the kid gets Americanized much more quickly than the adults. And in this case, the kid was an A-list celebrity. (My 14-year-old niece doesn't believe me when I tell her that figure skaters used to be big stars with their photos on the cover of People magazine and their misdeeds chronicled in the tabloids.)
    Cherub721 and (deleted member) like this.
  17. DBZ

    DBZ Well-Known Member

    Judging by this recent appearance on The Rosie Show, I'd say not true. Either that or Galina lent it out to her for this one occasion? :)
  18. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    Although I'm sure it wasn't much, I'm guessing the Ukrainian federation compensated Galina for coaching Oksana to some extent.

    And while the coach and possibly the federation taking a cut of earnings is customary in some parts of the world, Oksana's earnings were through the roof. They were far above the normal "earnings" so I think a cap would have been appropriate. Like the lesser amount of X% or $1,000,000. That still would have been generous but perhaps more reasonable.
  19. BittyBug

    BittyBug Dispirited

    Just to restate what has already been said in this thread, Bauil's suit is not against Zmievskaya so whatever compensation Galina may have received should not be at issue.
  20. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    If the compensation to Galina is specified in the contract, and it's not an amount that a reasonable Guardian would have advised her to sign off on, then it might be an issue.

    I was surprised to read this part:

  21. apatinar

    apatinar Active Member

    Oksana has her medal in her possession..
    She is in serious trouble though.. Since she met this new man, she sold her condo in NJ and moved away from the NYC area.. God only knows what happened to that money made from the sale... He then starts filling her head with a whole bunch of nonsense and hiring security guards for events when none are needed.. Many different money making schemes and lawsuits are now popping up...
    This man is going to take her straight to the cleaners and then leave her - mark my words....
  22. BittyBug

    BittyBug Dispirited

    That's a lot of ifs. How this thread got started down this road, I don't know. One poster alleged that Zmievskaya was taking 30%, but there was no link that I saw to substantiate that claim. And then everyone ran with it. Zmievskaya's been around this sport long enough that I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong, rather than idle speculation tarnishing her good name.
  23. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    I hope not. She's had such a tumultuous life. She needs to catch a break. That Rosie clip was interesting. She seemed a bit puffy, I'm just wondering if she's still drinking? It's hard to read her, and if anyone in this world would be described as being 'dramatic' it's this poor woman. You never can tell if she's going to burst into tears or into laughter. I hope she has friends to help her if this guy does indeed show himself to be a bad person.
  24. jenniferlyon

    jenniferlyon Well-Known Member

    Under the old Soviet system, yes, the federation would have paid for everything. But I'm not sure what kinds of funds would have been available in Ukraine at the time. I'm guessing not much, but they probably provided what they could. I know the rink in Odessa was in a sorry state at that time; there were stories about green algae growing all over the ice. Viktor was the one who took care of the bulk of Oksana's skating expenses. He had won his OGM by then and was living in Vegas, performing in tours and shows. He reinstated for the 1993-94 season and returned to Odessa to train.
  25. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    I think I was the one who brought up the 30/40% figure. I know I read it somewhere, that Oksana said that was Galina's cut. The writer followed up with Galina and she refused to comment on the matter.

    I certainly don't mean to tarnish her good name. I think it was very kind of her to bring Oksana into her home and be both her coach and mother surrogate. There are no guarantees in life, and Oksana may never have developed her skating into superstardom, and Galina would know that. She obviously acted out of kindness and love for Oksana. I think she deserves a special acknowledgement for that.
  26. Rainbow

    Rainbow Active Member

    I have no link, but I remember from commentary from German Eurosport and state tv at the time, that it was indeed customary for coaches in the ex soviet states to take 30% of the earnings of the prize money from competitions. It was just a different, performance-based system of paying for training fees.
  27. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    No - there is a picture somewhere in the forums that shows Oksana (recently) holding it in a frame. A friend of hers posted it. I don't believe Galina ever took the medal at any time - it was a rumor.

    If all of these problems stem from her youth and lack of English, then how would she know to even get a lawyer? People have clearly taken advantage of her. It's sad.
  28. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    I think we should wait for more facts before we determine whether William Morris indeed took advantage of her.
  29. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Agree - just because her current boyfriend believes she's owed money doesn't mean she actually is. William Morris is major, long established company and while it's possible that some shady employees took advantage of Oksana, as a company I can't imagine that would be their practice.

    At the same time, this wouldn't be the first time that someone enters into a contract or other agreements and later regrets it, or takes bad advice and only realizes it later. She might never get the money from the past, but hopefully she learns from it, dusts herself off, and moves forward.
  30. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    At this point, it's hard to tell how much of her "tumultuous life" was in fact, true; or something invented by many hands, over time..
    That said. I hope that whatever the contract situation is, it can be worked out, justly.